By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop

By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop


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Gilt, currently valued at more than $1 billion, was launched by Alexis Maybank, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, and three colleagues in 2007. It is one of the most fascinating startups of recent years. And it all began with one bold idea: to bring sample sales online and change the way millions shop. As they write about the day went live: "We had created a Web site that could potentially change the rules of retail...If shopping was traditionally a slow, leisurely would now be competitive, addictive, urgent, thrilling...not just easier, but so much more fun." Alexis and Alexandra share their perspective in this dramatic story of Gilt's birth, rise, and evolution. They show how they juggled the conflicting needs of their suppliers, engineers, marketers, and potential investors. They explain how they blended their individual strengths and weaknesses and managed their rapidly growing team. And they take us through the darkest moments of the recession when Gilt might easily have died.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591846260
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/2013
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 984,888
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson cofounded Gilt Groupe with Kevin Ryan, Mike Bryzek, and Phong Nguyen. Both have BAs from Harvard College and MBAs from Harvard Business School. They live in Manhattan with their husbands and children.

Table of Contents

Preface: Relationships. Execution xi

Introduction: Zac Posen in Daniel Island, South Carolina? 1

Chapter 1 The Perfect Complements: Our Journey from Cambridge to New York (Featuring eBay, Louis Vuitton, Plenty of Sample Sales, and One Fabulous Wedding in Miami) 7

Chapter 2 The History of an Idea: Dreaming Up Gilt Groupe 31

Chapter 3 From the Best of Friends to Business Partners: How to Know When You've Met Your Match 40

Chapter 4 An Idea Becomes Reality: Starting Your Business at the Right Time 61

Chapter 5 Networking Our Way to a November Launch 77

Chapter 6 Changing the Look of E-commerce: Photos, Curation, and Gilt Groupe's Visual Branding 90

Chapter 7 Dating, Marriage, and How to Get the Right Venture Capitalist to Fall for Your Start-up 99

Chapter 8 From College Fashionistas to Urban It Girls: Planting the Seeds of a Viral Phenomenon 122

Chapter 9 The Ground Game: Insider Marketing and How to Keep a Growing Business Exclusive 136

Chapter 10 Cubicles, Cappuccinos, and How We Built an Effective Start-up Team 150

Chapter 11 In Which We Face a Supply Crunch, Are Momentarily Tempted to Compromise Our Integrity, Struggle to Satisfy the Appetites of a Growing Membership, and Come Face-to-Face with a Worldwide Recession 165

Chapter 12 How We Developed Our Own Leadership Styles-Even as Gilt Groupe Grew and Our Roles Evolved 189

Chapter 13 Hypergrowth, Exhaustion, and One Hilarious Japanese Press Conference 221

Chapter 14 Growth, Partnership, and the Future of Fashion and E-commerce 241

Acknowledgments 255

Index 257

What People are Saying About This

Mindy Grossman

By Invitation Only is a must read for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators who will be inspired by their journey and how passion, purpose and partnership fueled a revolution in shopping!”

Robert Polet

“A fantastic adventure of entrepreneurship and girl power. Buy it, read it, enjoy it. You will certainly learn from it.”

Arianna Huffington

"First, Gilt Groupe’s co-founders changed the way we shop by recreating the excitement of a sample sale online. Now, with “By Invitation Only,” they’ve let us in on their innovative creative process. Anyone who hopes to understand the world of tech entrepreneurship — or upend it — would be wise to read it."

From the Publisher

“The story reads as a how-to manual for any entrepreneur looking to start something big and disruptive.” —

Tony Hsieh

"An exciting story about an exciting start-up.  Alexis and Alexandra saw a fantastic opportunity in the luxury space and took it."

Bobbi Brown

“Alexis and Alexandra are the ultimate entrepreneurs, having combined their love of fashion with the evolution of technology. They changed the way millions of people shop and have inspired others to follow in their footsteps. This book gives valuable insight into starting and building a business from the ground up based on one good idea.  It’s a must-read for anyone who has a dream and entrepreneurial spirit.”

Nina Garcia

"Gilt Groupe has forever changed the landscape of e-commerce. Not since eBay has there been such a revolution in the way we shop. Alexis and Alexandra redefined the way we approach luxury."

Mark Cuban

"Alexis and Alexandra have created something original and amazing, and they did it in the simplest way possible. They found something they loved, and they figured out how to bring it to the massive amount of people they knew would love it too."

Janet Hanson

"By Invitation Only is a brilliantly written book because its authors, who were friends before they were business partners, respected each other's ability to cultivate relationships, take calculated risks, and execute their game-changing, visionary ideas.  The key takeaway is that one needs to have an entrepreneurial spirit and indomitable will to succeed, no matter what career path you choose!"

Customer Reviews

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By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
CdMColey More than 1 year ago
Great Book!
KPinBR More than 1 year ago
Great record of how Gilt was built. They share business and management tips while inspiring the reader to turn a passion into a business. Enjoyable and useful
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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